CalProg 2005 (June 2005)


Date of Performance: June 4, 2005
Venue: Whittier Community Center, Whittier, CA, US

The second annual CalProg festival was held on June 4, the first Saturday of the month. So yes, here it is July and I'm just now writing down my thoughts... All in all, CalProg was another winning show and I'm already looking forward to next year's event -- though all that's been announced as of this writing is a date (June 3, 2006).

Spiraling's Tom Brislin at CalProg 2005The day opened with Spiraling, the New Jersey-area based band fronted by keyboardist Tom Brislin and including Marty O'Kane (guitars, vocals), Bob Hart (bass), and Paul Wells (drums). Spiraling play a style of music that is at the poppier end of progressive music, and perhaps closer to pop than prog. But, their performance had quite a bit of energy; and the often wry sense of humor in the lyrics made them quite endearing. A track on their Challenging Stage CD, "Ah, Sugar" had me - and I think everyone there not already familiar with the album - thinking that they were going to break into a rendition of the Archies classic, "Sugar, Sugar." Brislin's smile at the audience's amusement suggested it wasn't just mere coincidence. And, if my recollection is correct, the band played live for the first time the track "Are You Here," a non-live track on their live recording Live In New York City. A footnote often mentioned with Brislin, and mentioned here as well (though, obviously, not as a footnote), is that he subbed for Guy LeBlanc when Camel played NEARfest in 2003 and was for a short period of time the keyboardist in Yes. So, it probably comes as no surprise that Spiraling's cover was a rendition of Yes' "Sound Chaser," except for the fact that they attempted to tackle it, and did so very well.

Bubblemath at CalProg 2005Following Spiraling, was the eccentric band Bubblemath, playing their busy and energetic math rock. Though I said in my review of their CD Such Fine Particles Of The Universe that they reminded me of Echolyn... live, nothing could be farther from the truth. Oh, some harmony vocals maybe, but Bubblemath play a very dense, sometimes dissonant brand of progressive rock. Bubblemath's classic cover was Genesis' "The Knife."

Tiles at CalProg 2005Tiles took the stage next with a set that featured tracks from their latest release, Window Dressing, as well as from their earliest of releases, Tiles and Fencing The Clear. While their performance was tight, I kept having the feeling that vocalist Paul Rarick was just a little bored with it all. He seemed that way at ROSfest, too, so maybe it's just his way. However, drummer Pat DeLeon was very much a bundle of energy... The audience kept calling out for more "cowbell" ... and DeLeon delivered... even delivering the now classic line as uttered by Christopher Walken in the SNL skit of BÖC in the studio. Their cover? Rush's "2112," which they played almost perfectly...

Izz at CalProg 2005The effervescent Izz played a tremendously good set, but I had already come to expect that, this being the third time I'd seen them live (ProgWest 2002, CalProg 2004 and now CalProg 2005). Each time they just get better and better - and they started out pretty damn good the first time. Oh, there was just a little snafu for the band's cover tune - having unplugged his mic, Tom Galgano (keys, vocals), forgot to plug it back in. Oops. And what did they play? Yes' "Close To The Edge" with Tom, wife Anmarie Barnes, and Laura Meade sharing vocals. Oh, yes. Tremendous set throughout, all while Tom was feeling ill... except for the need for tissues, one would never have known.

Flower Kings at CalProg 2005To cap off the night, The Flower Kings played a thunderous set. Truly. As when they get going with those epic parts (oh, like the choruses on "The Truth Will Set You Free"), the whole building seemed to shake... the whole earth seemed to shake. Fabulous, fabulous set, with the band looking quite happy. Even with a new drummer, Marcus Liliequist, the band didn't miss a beat. This was Flower Kings in all their... bloom? The subtlest moment of the set was Jonas Reingold's bass solo, a tribute to his newly born daughter. Lovely. The band played many tracks from their latest CD (as one would expect), and treated folks to a cover of the "Soon" section of Yes' "Gates Of Delerium."

Michael Sadler and guests at CalProg 2005During the dinner break, it was Saga vocalist Mike Sadler with guests LINO (guitars and vocals) and the duo of Henning Pauly and Matt Cash (Frameshift, Chain). While LINO accompanied Sadler on several tunes to start, at the end of the set, it was Saga guitarist Ian Crichton. Pauly and Cash's set included music from Chain and Frameshift. The only drawback to the dinner time acoustic set... no lighting once the sun set, other than that coming through the windows of the vendor room.


Added: July 25th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow

Artist website: www.calprog.com
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